In 2007, Jonathan was backpacking around South East Asia when he decided to apply for a role on our website. Within half an hour he was having a conversation with a consultant whilst sitting on a beach in Thailand. Having been in Thailand for the past ten years, we recently caught up with Jonathan to find out how his career since starting his journey.
“The initial contact was ten years ago, I had qualified as a Chartered Accountant in the UK, and wanted to go away travelling. I was travelling around Thailand at the time and although I didn’t have a particular preference for working there, a consultant from Think Global Recruitment phoned up and that was the trigger point. Previous to that I had gone on to the website and uploaded my CV and only about half an hour had passed before I had got a call. I was sitting on the beach somewhere in Thailand which was a great starting point for a conversation. I hadn’t even clicked on a Thailand job, I think it was a job in Australia or the Caribbean, but we ended up talking about talking about Thailand and she mentioned that there were vacancies there and asked if I’d be interested. I said sure and before I knew it I was on my way to Bangkok to go to an interview, it was all quite random how it had happened.
Making the decision to move to another country can be tough. From a family perspective, it’s a quite a long way away. It’s a bit daunting and you can feel detached, but I had already been travelling around Asia so I was somewhat used to the lifestyle. At that time in my life, I didn’t have anything keeping me tied down in one place which made the decision a whole lot easier – I didn’t have anything to lose. I also really liked the idea of living in Asia from what I had experienced with it already.
When I first started my job in Thailand I ended up staying six months in Laos auditing NGOs, banks and a few international companies such as Carlsberg. The first assignment was a USAID funded project. If you can imagine it was quite different living and working in London in comparison to Laos. I remember visiting the government office and finding my staff working on the floor because there were no tables and chairs. There were government officers sitting back to and sharing desks.
After spending a few months in Laos, I ended up back in Thailand where I have been for the past ten years. I became a Partner with my current firm in 2013. If I had joined a company in the UK I’m not sure I would have been afforded the same opportunities.
If I look back over the ten years I would say I’m very grateful to have been in Thailand for so long- when I was travelling I had only really touched the surface of the country. You can have an extremely comfortable life as an Expat – you can send your kids to international schools, there are lots of places to go to have a great weekend, stay in nice hotels by the beach and it’s not far away from places like Singapore and Hong Kong. There’s a huge Expat community but it’s not an Expat community where everyone lives in the same neighbourhood, it’s very dispersed. There are Expatriates living all over the country. There’s so much going on and that’s why people really do like living and working here – it’s a really nice place.
Probably the biggest benefit of making the move was the opportunity for greater exposure. There’s expectations that as an Expat living in a country like Thailand you will be doing a lot more. They put you forward to talk to other Expats as it’s easier for you talk to them. You are working with more senior people and more in more challenging environments, even if you’re just starting out your career. Within about six months I was carrying out training in my firm, meeting people in the embassy, like the CFO of one of the biggest banks in the country. You would be meeting with Partners and dealing with them directly, only after a year’s qualified experience. The relationships you build up are extremely useful.
From a cultural perspective, you learn to develop a greater sense of awareness and learn how to deal with and relate to people from different backgrounds. It’s important to know to change your expectations so that you can manage situations. That doesn’t mean you have to change your own behaviour, people do not expect you to but you do need to match up with how people work locally.
Moving abroad is a fantastic opportunity and I think that if you are offered the opportunity you should take it. I think there can be a preferable time to take it in your career, perhaps after developing more technical skills which you can then use abroad. Make sure you do your own due diligence and try to talk to other Expats living there to make sure you really want to do it and make sure to get involved with sports clubs and things you are interested in when you arrive. International opportunities don’t come up that often so when it does try to embrace it.”
We would like to thank Jonathan for sharing his story and wish him all the best for the future.
Please get in touch with us here if you would like to discuss moving overseas with one of our advisors.